In preparing a business speech for a class of eager college students, I came across some eye-opening facts. Approximately 20 percent of small businesses fail within the first year. If a startup makes it to the fifth year, there’s roughly a 50-50 chance they’ll survive. After 10 years, the survival rate drops to approximately 35 percent.
The numbers, provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, don’t exactly compel someone to go into business for themselves. But as a business owner, I’ve learned that success depends mightily on whether you have the drive, desire and tenacity to make your business dreams come true.
So, if you want to beat the Bureau of Labor’s odds, I have one question: Are you willing to take a few risks?
In an earlier blog post, I wrote about holding down two full-time jobs in order to build the financial cushion I wanted to start my Life’s Journey business. Instead of adding to my bankroll, the dual jobs nearly broke me physically and mentally. So, I dug deep, took a leap of faith, and quit one job so I could refuel and recharge. I knew I would need that energy to pour into opening my own business and make it the best it could be. The money would follow.
Smartest move I ever made.
If you are willing to take risks (even small ones, like mine), it shows that you have an entrepreneurial spirit that will serve you well, not only in business but in other endeavors. Aside from opening a brick-and-mortar company, it takes a similar entrepreneurial acumen to launch a product, write a book, lead a board of directors and even organize a successful fundraiser for the PTA.
Do you have what it takes? Here’s my list of the Seven Most Important Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs. If you see any that apply to you, embrace them! These will serve you well in taking charge of your future, in an entrepreneurial way:
- Vision – Visionary leaders “get” the big picture. It may take little steps over time before the picture is framed and hanging in the front office; just keep your eye on the prize.
- Optimism – The power of a positive attitude trumps naysayers. Every. Time.
- Tenacity – Also known as persistence, holding fast. Winston Churchill said it best, “Never, never, never give up.”
- Passion – If you’re going to work this hard, you really should love it, right? Right.
- Flexibility – There are times you may need to step back, move forward or make difficult decisions—with no regrets. Be willing to go with the flow.
- Self-motivation – You’ve heard the saying, “Eighty percent of success is just showing up”? Entrepreneurs show up, work hard, stay late and don’t complain.
- Fearlessness – Whether opening a business, mediating a divided board or telling the PTA Moms, “No, a wine tasting is not the best idea for the elementary school fundraiser,” lead without fear!
Thank you! I know first hand how difficult it is to make the sacrifices necessary to maintain a successful business. You absolutely have to be willing to take risks. I hope to one day leap beyond my comfort zones. You are an inspiration to us all!